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Transparent Enterprise BI

BY CSA STAFF

Making better business decisions requires retailers to break down silos between company divisions, and deliver scalable predictive tools that allow managers enterprise-wide to sift through mission-critical information.

Chain Store Age talked with Andrea Morgan-Vandome, VP retail strategy and solution marketing, Oracle Retail, about the importance of business intelligence (BI).

What is the biggest change today related to retail analytics and BI?

As shoppers come into stores with more knowledge, sometimes more than store associates, it is more important than ever to put analytics capabilities into the hands of line managers. These associates need access to role-based corporate information — from multiple places in the enterprise — to make the best decisions regarding assortments, promotions, pricing and customer service.

What challenges do retailers face in reaching this point?

There are a few. Retailers are trying to provide decision-making capabilities to managers — functionality that they never had before. However, retailers are finding just how narrow and siloed their information really is. That said, the biggest challenge is how to break down these silos.

The next problem is managers need to gain a better understanding of what is happening across the enterprise — not only what is going on, but also how to best make changes in the current context of the business. This includes delivering tools that allows them to question what is going on, and why it happened. The only way to answer these questions is to provide them with access to better information.

Finally, retailers are struggling with the speed of access to data and reports. BI is an interactive tool, and business users need BI tools that will allow them to get answers they need on their own. As the volume of data increases, this takes a toll on speed. Retailers need to focus on solutions that can quickly crunch data and deliver data in more digestible ways, such as through more visual tools.

How does cross-channel demand add to the scenario?

Cross-channel creates even more pressure. Retailers need to begin thinking from a customer perspective, and that includes learning how they shop in-store, online or on the go through mobile devices. If they can understand how the consumer shops, they will see how their actions will impact their ongoing business decisions.

This can’t happen until retailers break down the silos between business channels, and operate cross-channel as a truly integrated process versus separate shopping channels. Once they do, retailers are in a better position to use BI to understand and respond to enterprise pricing, merchandising and promotions.

How is big data impacting retailers’ BI strategies?

Big data comes from all directions, including increasing store-level customer touchpoints, as well as digital touchpoints, such as mobile and social media. Retailers need to use analytics to learn from this information.

Previously, retailers didn’t have the access they needed to understand the impact of this information from an operational perspective, from a sales performance point-of-view, or from a demand standpoint and its impact on the supply chain.

Related to big data, retailers need to deliver BI tools that provide self-service capabilities. By merging these tools with predictive analytics to sift through big data, retailers have what they need to ask the best questions and get the best answers from these volumes of data.

Why is scalability so important?

A successful BI solution has to be multi-source and able to draw data from throughout the organization. It also has to be scalable to support increasing data volume and deliver speed for analysis performance. Retailers no longer want to manage information at corporate and push data down to stores. Instead, they are considering cloud capabilities to allow decision-makers to pull data as needed.

What’s next in retail analytics?

The biggest goal right now is getting mainstream adoption and having people latch on. The other goal is moving away from structured reporting and toward more analytics by asking questions. By adopting these concepts, retailers will more easily be able to apply BI to their business processes. The final goal is to educate retailers on the value and advantages of cloud-based BI solutions. Retailers want to move in this direction, and by doing so they will be in a better position to run more cost-effective operations.

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D.Spencer says:
Mar-18-2013 11:57 am

As far as I have seen in the corporatist world today, grand companies cannot make it without tools for strategies, tools for planning their resources, tools for regulation reports or maintaining corporate relations with their clients and collaborators. This is what happens when you see things at a large scale and you are not afraid of expansion and development. Industry growth is both a gift and a nightmare unless dealt with on behalf of the highest technologies of the hour.

D.Spencer says:
Mar-18-2013 11:57 am

As far as I have seen in the corporatist world today, grand companies cannot make it without tools for strategies, tools for planning their resources, tools for regulation reports or maintaining corporate relations with their clients and collaborators. This is what happens when you see things at a large scale and you are not afraid of expansion and development. Industry growth is both a gift and a nightmare unless dealt with on behalf of the highest technologies of the hour.

NicoleScott says:
Mar-08-2013 06:30 am

Every decision that a retailer makes will affect the whole retail operation. It is important that the decisions are consistent with the values you seek to maintain. - Kale Flagg

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Social Marketing

BY Staff Writer

Retailers spend months developing smart, effective strategies across their in-store, Web and mobile channels each holiday season. But social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be just as powerful in getting the message out to shoppers in the days leading up to Christmas.

“As always, it’s going to be a value-driven Christmas, and people will be compelled by offers such as free shipping and rewards,” e-tailing group president Lauren Freedman said. “Whether you encourage consumers to ‘Like’ a brand for a discount code or use it as a way to get information out to target audiences in a timely manner, there are easy ways to boost social engagement and influence sales along the way.”

Keeping channels consistent is key, so the first step is to integrate a streamlined seasonal aesthetic. Retailers can dress up social media sites similar to how they would add pictures of gifts or snowflakes to an email marketing initiative or website. For example, consider switching the company’s usual profile picture on Facebook and Twitter with one that better represents the holiday season — the same goes for picking a fun, vibrant and seasonal Twitter background image.

“Merchants have to be consistent and since they are typically under-resourced, it’s strategic to take what you’re doing in mobile and on a website and somehow incorporate it on your social media channels,” Freedman said.

Not only is this important for visual themes, but integrating features across various channels is also effective. For example, apparel retailers Armani Exchange and Jessica Simpson have rolled out their Twitter newsfeed to their websites, allowing online shoppers to see in real time how people are tweeting about the brand.

Social media can also be integrated into other channels by encouraging Foursquare users to check into their store location and holding Twitter contests — for example, the first 20 people to retweet a message from the brand wins a prize.

“As long as there is a discount or an offer such as free shipping, consumers will do what they can to get it,” said Ken Burke, founder of online solutions provider MarketLive. “Retailers can also create a sense of urgency by offering Happy Hour specials on social networks that only last for an hour or so.”

According to a recent survey conducted by MarketLive, about 42% consumers said they plan to purchase products on Amazon, which means competitors need to give shoppers more reason than ever to visit their site instead.

“Amazon is a highly transactional site, but one way to compete is to make a brand more personalized,” Burke said. “Many retailers think they should have a silent voice, but incorporating corporate culture and posting pictures that show what the company really stands for can go a long way.”

Retailers, for instance, can post pictures of staffers decorating the offices or participating in charitable events. In addition, digital marketing agency Blue Glass advises retailers to ask their target audience questions on Facebook and Twitter to encourage engagement. Sample questions include: What was the best gift you received as a child? If you won a shopping spree, what would you buy? Even ask what the weather is like in their part of the country.

“People go to Facebook to keep up with friends, so consumers love when companies have a personality and don’t come across as just a large corporation,” said Tori Cushing, social media analyst at Blue Glass. “If a brand comes up on your newsfeed and only talks about products, consumer will think of it as spam and ‘un-Like’ the retailer. It’s important to keep that personalization and engagement factor, so your fan base doesn’t leave you behind.”

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Perfect Timing

BY CSA STAFF

With approximately 95% of retail purchases still occurring in physical stores (according to the National Retail Federation), it has never been more important to find new ways to engage, and connect with, in-store shoppers. For The Finish Line, mobile point-of-sale was a critical component in its drive to enhance the customer’s shopping experience.

“We recognize the importance of being where our customer is at the time when he or she needs us,” said Rob Baugh, director of store applications and delivery, The Finish Line, Indianapolis, which has 641 stores in malls across the country. “By leveraging mobile POS, we are empowering our associates to engage and assist consumers throughout the [store-level] buying process.”

The retailer made mobile payments a reality as it upgraded its POS system to a platform from MICROS Systems, Columbia, Md. When it was time to select the best customer engagement solution to integrate to POS, the retailer researched all of its options. It selected a solution from VeriFone, San Jose, Calif.

Finish Line upgraded its entire POS infrastructure with the MICROS Retail X POS solution, and MX915 payment terminals from VeriFone.

In addition to supporting electronic payment options, including magstripe and PIN-based debit and credit cards, chip-enabled (EMV) smart cards and near-field communications (NFC) mobile payments, the color, high-speed multimedia processors also support full-motion video to further engage the shopper during checkout.

The second piece of the POS rollout included the addition of iPod Touch devices integrated with Micros’ MyStore application and VeriFone’s PAYware Mobile Enterprise software, which supports all device transaction functionality and adds a level of security to the mobile devices.

Choosing a user-friendly customer-facing technology was important, but plenty of work happened behind the scenes to bring the devices’ functionality to life. To streamline mobile POS processing, Finish Line performed network upgrades and added wireless access points. It also deployed mobile receipt printers throughout stores to aid sales associates performing mobile POS transactions.

Holiday Rush: While many retailers will hold off on rolling out an innovative, expansive technology such as mobile POS until after the holiday rush is over, Finish Line knew mobile POS would deliver, as Baugh explained, “additional checkouts, line-busting and enhanced customer interaction — all components that can help us to put the customer first, throughout the holiday season and beyond.”

To prepare, Finish Line conducted a 36-store, three-month pilot of the technology from May to August. Each store featured five mobile devices that supported a variety of functionality, including “credit payments, loyalty account lookup, gift card bar code scanning, and later we added PIN-based debit,” he explained.

“The trials were successful, and our customers valued interacting with sales associates using the mobile POS units,” Baugh said.

Positive feedback prompted a company-wide rollout of the mobile solution a month later.

“We are deploying five devices per store, each integrated with VeriFone’s PAYware software that enables the iPods to accept credit, PIN debit, and eventually EMV and NFC payments,” Baugh explained. “The devices also have a bar code scanner, allowing users to conduct price checking and inventory management processes.”

While sales associates can use the devices throughout the store, units are tightly integrated with POS. As a result, all mobile transactions are filtered through the retailer’s central processing system, providing one overall view of data.

At presstime, Finish Line was close to completing its rollout across all of its stores. The retailer has high expectations for the technology’s functionality, especially when intimately connecting with store-level shoppers during the critical holiday shopping period.

“During the trial, there was certainly a ‘wow’ factor, and this new shopping experience created excitement among both with sales associates and our customers,” Baugh added. “Moving forward, we will be measuring the results of the rollout, and comparing transactions on the sales floor versus transactions occurring at the counter.”

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duyentran607 says:
Apr-20-2013 10:33 pm

While sales associates can use the devices throughout the store, units are tightly integrated with POS. As a result, all mobile transactions are filtered through the retailer’s central processing system, providing one overall view of data. Chatrandom

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